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I am a freshwater ecologist motivated by basic and applied questions about how biodiversity is responding to global change. Much of my recent work helps advance a set of quantitative tools to anticipate how novel environmental variation regimes and biological invasions will alter the persistence of the higher levels of biological organization (communities, metacommunities, and food webs) in both lotic and lentic systems.
I earned my PhD with the Research Group on Ecology of Inland Waters of the University of Girona (Catalonia, Spain) after research stays at the Linnaeus University, Sweden, and at the University of Georgia in Athens. My Ph.D. research evaluated successional trajectories of invertebrate communities in newly created aquatic habitats. Since the PhD, my research interests have been focused on quantifying the impacts of global change on the structure and functioning of freshwater ecosystems, with a special emphasis on hydrologic alteration and invasion. In September 2013, after a postdoc position at the Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA), I joined John Sabo’s lab at Arizona State University in a large collaborative, NSF project funded under the ‘Water Sustainability and Climate’ program to compare and contrast human influences on hydrologic and ecological systems in the U.S. Southwest and Southeast. In this role, I focused on quantifying the impacts of climate and hydrologic change on riverine fish communities via time series modeling (Fourier, autoregressive models) of streamflow and community data. While participating in WSC research I also contributed to a collaborative venture between ASU and the University of Alaska to study the effects of hydrologic regime shifts on riverine food webs.
My Postdoctoral Fellowship in SESYNC focuses on dams and water scarcity. Dams are a paramount driver of hydro-ecological alteration in the U.S., but also provide a range of socio-economic benefits and increase human resilience against climate change. Under scenarios of water scarcity due to increasing climate variability and over-allocation of freshwater resources, examining how dams can provide engineered resilience in social-ecological systems is a question of crucial importance. My project asks two questions: (i) Where are the ‘battlegrounds’ of water scarcity in the U.S., defined as basins where dams have a disproportionately high impact on hydrological and ecological alteration, and thus where modifying dam operations could offer particularly high benefits?, and (ii) How can we identify optimal trade-offs between maximizing water conservation in reservoirs (to increase human resilience to water scarcity) and securing as much biodiversity insurance as possible? I plan to answer these questions applying recent advances in time-series methods on long-term physical, ecological, and socio-economic data, in collaboration with Julian Olden (University of Washington).
Ruhí, A., Muñoz, I., Tornés, E., Batalla, R.J., Vericat, D., Ponsatí, L., Acuña, V., von Schiller, D., Marcé, R., Bussi, G., Francés, F. & S. Sabater (2016). Flow regulation increases food‐chain length through omnivory mechanisms in a Mediterranean river network. Freshwater Biology 61(9):1536-1549.
Ruhí, A., Acuña, V., Barceló, D., Huerta, B., Mor, J.R., Rodríguez, S. & S. Sabater (2016). Bioaccumulation and trophic magnification of pharmaceuticals and endocrine disruptors in a Mediterranean river food web. Science of the Total Environment 540: 250-259.